Due to COVID-19 and New Satellite Analytics, Forest Inventory made a Pivotal Change in 2020.

FBRI is now providing Stand-based Forest Inventories at a fraction of traditional costs. 

  • The cost-reduction timing is crucial for 2021.
  • The FBRI Inventory is higher resolution than all traditional methods and provides 100% coverage in one year (up to one million acres).

The 10-meter Forest-wide Site Grid is a 2nd major component now being provided by FBRI.  It is a permanent GIS mapping of forest productivity at a resolution never before possible.

Forestry is just like every other element of corporate America.  The COVID-19 crisis has dealt a heavy blow to our industry.  Every forestry corporation, tribal enterprise and County forest manager is reviewing budgets, staffing levels and alternative means to maintain long-term goals and cash flows.  The near-term future is not well defined for long-term forest planning goals.

Over the past 4 – 6 years, FBRI has developed and enhanced a suite of biometric methods and tools which were incrementally published and released to FBRI-contributing organizations.  The ability to invoke these R&D enhancements was left to each organization’s internal staff.

In 2019, FBRI announced that it would take on a more “hands-on” approach to assisting forest management teams to incorporate these new methods and tools.  This has occurred under the new “FBRI Enterprise Services” mission.

Now in 2020, FBRI has launched a series of regional initiatives.  We are actively building (or updating) stand-based forest inventories for a number of organizations.  Each new forest-wide inventory is being completed in less than a single year.  Satellite resources and FBRI analytics are providing robust, stand-based forest inventories at a fraction of traditional costs at a time when every financial and operational alternative must be considered.

FBRI is currently providing new (and revised) stand-based forest inventories for forest ownerships in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California.  Individual ownerships have been between 60,000 and 2,000,000 acres.  Average stand polygons range in size from four to 200 acres containing complete tree lists by species, size, density and degrees of clumpiness.  These include all combinations of natural to planted stands.

Traditional inventories sample about seven percent of total forest ownership each year.  Average costs in the West are $7.00 per cruised acre (FBRI industry surveys in 2013, 2016 and 2019).  This amounts to about $195,000 each year on 400,000 acres, which is typically budgeted annually to stay current.  (Five years would equal $975,000 in cruising expense)

The FBRI satellite-based inventory is 100% populated in a single year.  The field plot sample on 400,000 acres is about $80,000 and the FBRI analytics cost about $75,000.  This is a one-time cost of $155,000 with every stand uniquely mapped.  (Five years would equal $155,000)

The FBRI satellite-based inventory uniquely maps each and every forest polygon across the entire landscape.  No sample cruises are extrapolated from one stand to another as in traditional methods.

It is now feasible and efficient to replace traditional forest timber mapping and cruising with satellite-facilitated stratification and stand tree-list generation. The operational, working forest costs are approximately one-quarter, or less, than traditional inventory development and updating.

High-precision satellite data is used to measure almost every tree.  Calibration plots are installed to confirm the satellite data. Then FPS (FBRI software) compiles the results. Forestland owners and managers are delivered a complete ownership inventory at a stand-level basis.

These FBRI services can also create a site index across each ownership, localize your silviculture treatments and develop a harvest scheduling plan based on your constraints and inventory data. Every stand is quantified, your stands are grown specific to your silviculture methods, a productivity map covers your full ownership . . . all resulting in an economically-sound harvest plan completely customized to your constraints.

While these developments are providing technological improvements beneficial to every forest manager, the COVID-19 shutdown has made the timing of invoking these methods pivotal, in order to preserve a reasonable expectation of a positive cash flow.

Contact FBRI quickly to get on the 2021 schedule of inventory and site grid updates being produced in your region.  Individual ownerships may be cookie-cut from larger projects if scheduling is confirmed prior to startup.

Charts on the following pages provide estimates of analytical costs relative to the size of the forest ownership.  On average, field sampling costs are about equivalent to FBRI analytical costs for establishing forest satellite calibration plots.

On average, the site grid field sampling costs are about twice the FBRI analytical costs for building the site grid layer.  The closest traditional cost comparison is a complete soil survey at a much higher level of investment and yielding a less robust result.

FBRI provides the methods, tools and data to grow and sustain your timberland business.